Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Mac

Okay, Elaine wrote about Fleetwood Mac tonight and you should read it. I love to talk music and since we've been doing activism all day I have no idea what's going on. (And honestly am having KPFA withdrawal.) I could talk about cameras because C.I. has upgraded us all to higher digital cams. (Which was very nice.) I'm used to film and developing it myself (I have my own dark room at my place) but I gotta' be honest, digital's a whole new world to me. I'm not giving up traditional cameras (nor was the gift intended to encourage anyone to) because I've put in too many hours and too many years learning how to fix something in the developing stage. I honestly wonder whether, other than framing, there's much you can do with the photos?

I know Rebecca loves to use photoshop and I imagine there are a number of techniques there. But I'm equally sure that twenty years from now, you'll have photographers (working with digital cameras) doing things in some form of photoshop that are so far beyond what's capable currently. As I understand it, photoshop is basically a filter. And you're using the same technique that doesn't necessarily require . . .

I'm trying to think of how to put this so it doesn't sound like an insult because it's not intended as such. But with photoshop, there are X options and everyone has access to them. In developing traditional prints in a dark room, I have basics I was taught and things I learned over the years through trial and error. It's more hands on.

Less mechanical and more of an art. Or maybe, if I've insulted anyone (which wasn't my intent), photoshop is more of a mass process and developing in a dark room is more of a hands on process. (If you do feel insulted, laugh at me and my fears that years of knowledge are about to be flushed down the toilet.)

So it's been a busy day and a fun day. It's also been a hungry day. We ate lunch late and I wasn't hungry at breakfast (I was sleepy, I'm not used to the EST time zone) and then we had dinner late. Dinner was a dish C.I. cooked that was wonderful. I have no idea what it was. It had shrimp. It was similar to gumbo but not rice based. (Maybe, in my California ignorance, I just assume gumbo comes with rice or it's not gumbo?) I was starving and would have enjoyed anything, granted, but it's also true that it was delicious. There was also a spinach dish. Which made my day.

Before anyone panics, we're staying in the home of a friend of C.I.'s and it was canned spinach that's probably several months in the pantry. I love spinach and if I had any in cans I'd be eating it. (Cans bought before the spinach problems. I won't even buy canned spinach right now.) C.I. made a thing with fruit and sunflower seeds that made the spinach taste wonderful. There were other dishes but I pretty much stuck to the shrimp dish and the spinach because I love spinach. Tracey and Mike are cooking tomorrow night and I think Trina has plans for Saturday (she and her husband arrive Friday with, I think, Jess' parents). (Betty's forbidden to cook. We all agreed that snacks or meals, Betty's not lifting a finger. She's responsible for herself and her three kids nearly every day of the week so she can just enjoy other people cooking and cleaning up after.)

It was a crazy day and there are still computer problems but I think, between trial and error as well as helpful advice/trouble shooting from the UK Computer Gurus, we're all able to blog now. That's dependent upon everyone having access and most of the computers are being used to complete the gina & krista round-robin right now (and get it sent out, if you're reading this, check your inboxes).

So music. Fleetwood Mac is a favorite of mine. I'd rank "Storms" a little higher than Elaine did (it's a personal choice, that's not me saying she's wrong) and I'd agree with her call of Tusk as the favorite Mac album (of the Nicks & Buckingham lineup). Rumors I rank higher than the the album before (known as Fleetwood Mac by some and the white album by others) but I think both suffer from the fact that Lindsey Buckingham thinks he's a lyricist and he isn't. In the traditional format, he's either glaringly bad or manages to be a little better than passable. When he can trick out the format (musically), the lyrics matter less.

Trick out does not include those annoying 'music box' noises he begins to insist upon on everything beginning with Mirage. The more candy corn he offers, the further away the music gets from rock. They also tend to become lighter than air and about as substantial. I think he achieved his best work on Tusk and I'd even go so far as to say that Say You Will offered some surprisingly strong work from him. However, after all these years, Fleetwood Mac should have insisted he work with a lyricist years ago. The bulk of the lyrics he's written for the group are not just shallow, they're obvious in word choices as though a ninth grader wrote them. There's no poetry, there's nothing beyond the obvious. To liken them to bumper stickers would give them too much credit because a good bumper sticker is clever. When Nicks, Buckingham and McVie were all with the group, there was some stupid need to give the most tracks on any disc to Buckingham. Nicks and McVie are strong writers (lyrically and musically) so, presumably, the fear was that if the strongest writers were used, the group might be seen as too "girly."

So we've all had to suffer through doodles from him and missed out on strong work by Nicks and McVie such as "What Has Rock & Roll Ever Done For You". Or to use a more widely known example, Nicks' "Silver Springs." That was recorded for Rumors but it was more important that Buckingham's doodles be included. So it ended up being the B-side of "Go Your Own Way." The boxed set (The Chain) rescued it in the CD age and it would become a hit when it was re-recorded (live) for the Mac's The Dance.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, September 21st, 2006, International Peace Day established by the United Nations November 30, 1981 and Bully Boy offers 'alternative programming' as the chaos and violence continues in Iraq, as the press learns that 'suicide bomber' is an imprecise term, as those doing the torture includes 'government forces,' as the US military fatality count approaches the 2700 mark and the so-called coalition of the willing continues to shrink with the US forces left to sing,
"To be the last to leave, the last to be gone, stolen from the ones who hung on to it" ("Fireflies," written by Stevie Nicks, available on Fleetwood Mac Live).

The BBC reports that Manfred Nowak (anti-torture expert for the United Nations and Austrian law professor) has stated that torture is not only on the rise in Iraq but it may be happening more frequently than when Saddam Huseein was in power. Nowak's statements were based on a UN report which found that "Victims come from prisons run by US-led multinational forces as well as by the ministries of interior and defence and private militias".

This as Reuters notes: "The Sunni religious organisation, the Muslim Scholars Association, accused unnamed militia and government forces of killing five people in the village of al-Intsar, on the northeastern outskirts of Baghdad late on Wednesday. The group said others were kidnapped and houses burned."

Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported today, in Baghdad alone, at least "5,106 people . . . died violent deathd during July and August". Which is no doubt why, as reported by Sudarsan Raghavan's (Washington Post), The Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, William Caldwell IV, US military spokesperson, announced the obvious, after the UN had, that there was "a spike in execution-style murders" and "many bodies found had clear signs of being bound, tortured and executed." Way to stay ahead of the curve, but then he wouldn't look like the third guest, the loopy, bra-less one, if he couldn't state the obvious long after it had already been noted, would he?

Meanwhile Reuters reports that at least 38 corpses were discovered in Baghdad with most bearing signs of torture. Bombings? Reuters reports that a rocket attack on a home in Baghdad killed four and left five wounded, while bombs killed eight in Baghdad and left eighteen wounded and, in Diwaniya, a roadside bomb took the lives of two Iraq soldiers. Shootings? Reuters reports 3 shot dead in Kerbala and three police officers in Baquba. In a combination of the two (mortar attack, followed by gunfire) AP reports the deaths of six Iraqi police officers when their Baghdad police station was attacked.

AFP reports that the so-called coalition of the willing continues to suffer from shrinkage as Italy hands over Dhi Qar to Iraqi forces and, low and behold, there are no reports the Italy's actions "embolden" terrorism or that their action prevents "democracy." Quite the contrary, a US military press release credited to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
maintains that the handover and Italy's withdrawal predicated on the handover is "another sign of progress." Progress is possible, apparently, for all but the U.S. and England. Reuters identifies Italy as "the last major Western European ally" for England and the US and notes that an Italian soldier died just "hours" before the handover raising the total number of Italian soldiers who died in the war to 32.

The US military fatality count continues to rise and the US military announced today that a US soldier died in Baghdad Wednesday from a roadside bomb while today a soldier died from wounds received while fighting in al Anbar province. The announcements come as the US military fatality count is at 2,693 (seven away from the 2700 mark) and as the AP reports questions remain in another Wednesday US military death in Baghdad ("Sgt. 1st Class Charles Jason Jones, 29, of Lawrenceburg", Kentucky ) which is currently classified as due to "non combat-related causes".

"Suicide bombers" and "suicide car bombers"? The AP reports that term is far from precise and that the Iraqi Defense Ministry issued a warning today based upon the fact that people are being kidnapped, released and then used as unknowing bombers via remote control from devices planted on them or their vehicles.

In peace news, Sue Anne Pressley Montes (Washington Post) reports "A group of ministers, veterans and peace activists attempted to deliver a 'declaration of peace' to the White House today, kicking off a week of vigils and other activities in 350 communities across the country calling for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq" and "The day's activities also featured vigils for peace in dozens of cities and towns, including Little Rock, Ark.; Tucson, Ariz.; Pasadena, Ca.; Miami, Fla.; Decatur, Ga.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Austin, Tex. In San Diego Friday, there will be a Dance Action for Peace; on Saturday in Cincinnati, a Peace Tent City will be erected. San Francisco is hosting a mass bicycle ride to protest the conflict, and Madison, Wisc., is holding community forums on the issue." The Declaration of Peace site contains a
Vigils Calendar that will help you find events in your area as well as more information.